Generating Community Buy-In
There are millions of tools available on the internet for millions of different, specialized purposes. For any given mission, there are probably dozens of competing products with different focuses, user interfaces, etc. The most successful product is not always (or even normally) the most efficient or effective product; it's the one that has the largest community buy-in.
In order for a project--especially one that's based in collaboration or social media--to be successful, community buy-in is as important as the product design. Since our project--TroyNexus--is so community focused, I've been focusing a lot over the past several week on ensuring that the major stakeholders in the Troy community are aware of and excited about the development of this project. This also provides a valuable opportunity to collect feedback and get an idea of how each set of stakeholders will actually use the product; it's easy for the designers to come up with a theoretical set of needs for each group, but it doesn't necessarily coincide with reality.
Although these meetings haven't led us to change anything major in the site design, they have helped us assess our audience, underlined our priorities (usability, project guidance, archives, etc.), and led us to form relationships that will be crucial in the release of this product.